Photo from last year's race, with Lel, Goumri and Wanjiru, photo by Photorun.net.
The race was changed last night when Martin Lel had to withdraw with a slowly recovering injury. However, I am not sure if anything could have stopped Mr. Wanjiru...
The pacesetters really got the race going from the start. A 4.33 first mile, two miles in 9.11, three miles in 13.36, four miles in 18.48 and five miles in 22.45 and six miles in 27.27. The pace was relentless.
Following in close were Jaquad Gharib, two time World Champion, Hendrick Ramaala of South Africa, with twenty-six world class marathons under his belt, Zerseny Tadesse, Eritrea's cross country and track superstar, Abderrahim Goumri of Morocco, Emmanuel Mutai of Kenya and Samuel Wanjiru of Kenya, the 2008 Olympic champion.
The pace was suicidal, or nearly so. Hitting 5k in 14.06, 10k in 28.28, 15k in 43.12, and 20k in 58.14. The pack of ten hitting the halfway in 61.13, and the pace began to slow down, from 4.40-41 a mile to 4.56-5.02.
The pacesetters were ahead of the halfway goal of 2:04 pace, and the field paid the difference. Wanjiru, Gharib and Kebede stayed close to the lead, as they field hit the 25km in 1.13.35. Running a smart pace was US runners Meb Keflizighi and Dathan Ritzenhein were at 1.15.27-1.15.29.
Between 25k and 30k, Sammy Wanjiru, Tsegay Kebede and Jaquad Gharib took off, running 4.45 miles after a few miles in the five minute range. Kebede hit the 30 kilometer mark in 1.28.35. And then, Sammy Wanjiru showed his game plan. Dathan Ritzenhein was at 1.30.51 for 30k.
Wanjiru dropped a 4.40 mile, and hit 20 miles in 1.35.07, eeking out a minute lead over Kebede and Gharib. Gharib was hanging on for dear life, Kebede looked like he was menacing. Remember that Kebede has run 10k on the track much faster than Wanjiru!
Wanjiru ran 4.40, then 4.41, then 4.46, hitting 35 kilometers in 1.43.18, and had a two second lead over Tsegay Kebede of Ethiopia, and nine seconds over Gharib. Mutai was forty seconds back. Meb Keflizighi, who was in good shape, but a little shorter on conditioning than Coach Larson would have liked, was running a brilliant race, hitting 35k in 1.46.25 and making the top ten for the first time in the race.
Sammy Wanjiru, 2008 Beijng Champion extended his lead to ten seconds over bronze medalist from Beijing Tsegay Kebede, with Wanjiru setting a course record in 2.05.10. Kebede was second in 2.05.20. Jaquad Gharib of Morocco, set a new national record and PB with his 2.05.27. In fourth, Emmanuel Mutai of Kenya ran 2.06.53. Hendrick Ramaala of South Africa ran 2.07.44 for fifth. Abderrahim Goumri ran 2.08.25 for sixth. Yonas Kifle was seventh, in 2.08.28. Atsushi Sato of Japan ran 2.09.16 for eighth. Meb Keflizighi of the US, hit 2.09., a personal best for Meb and ninth place. Felix Limo, former winner, was tenth in 2.09.47 and Dathan Ritzenhein was eleventh in 2.10.00!
More analysis to come later today, but we will finish with a nice quote from second place Tsegaye Kebede, who noted: "Around 42k, I felt that I had to keep running as hard and as fast as I could because I wanted to win. There was some very good runners here and to beat them is a good feeling. Maybe next year."
For more on the marathon, please check http://www.runningnetwork.com